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Warm Weather, Buying Trends Drive Growth in Camping Equipment Sales

Retailers have been pulling out their camping related gear a little early this year. According to a report by global information company The NPD Group, many retailers saw a rise in camping-related equipment in what is typically a colder time of the year. In addition, buying trends indicate that retailers who sell sporting goods may need to expand their definition of their target audience for the category.

Outerwear sales tend to peak in November and December, and the cold winters of 2013-2014 drove outerwear sales up 9 percent. However, with 2015 being the second warmest year on record in the U.S. (second to 2012), the category saw a 6 percent decline in the fourth quarter of this past year. Instead, camping equipment, which usually hits its peak in May and June, experienced a 13 percent sales increase during the fourth quarter. That was only partially due to the warmer weather, according to NPD.

“Despite the atypical weather, there is still a shift taking place when it comes to consumer preference for outerwear, which is altering the category landscape. Driven by the Millennials, consumers are choosing light-weight puffy jackets and multiple layers that incorporate new technologies as opposed to traditional, heavy winter coats. Consumers are doing more with less; rather than purchasing specific products for every season of activity, they are buying adaptable and multipurpose items,” says Matt Powell, vice president and sports industry analyst for The NPD Group.

Powell adds that the camping industry is responding to the less traditional, modernized and urbanized side of camping. Categories such as camp hammocks, backpacking tents, tent poles, tarps and other tent accessories have been driving the growth.

“Consumers are propelling new trends within the outdoor industry, and the seasonal lines, which brands and retailers have drawn are becoming more of a stereotype as consumers evolve their definition of ‘the outdoors.’ While camping may be a two-week backpacking trip, it may also be a regular activity in a backyard or apartment rooftop. This urban spin is opening more doors for the industry,” says Powell. “As equipment products continue to cross style, function and fashion, the industry will continue to gain appeal from more walks of consumers, and keep its current following coming back in both fresh and familiar ways.”

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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